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Priority Open Recommendations: Internal Revenue Service

GAO-20-548PR Published: Apr 23, 2020. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2020.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to the recommendations where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our 24 priority open recommendations for the Internal Revenue Service as of April 2020.

For example, 2 recommendations are aimed at helping IRS systematically identify and recruit the workforce it needs and develop a strategy to identify and close skills gaps.

Since our previous letter in April 2019, IRS implemented 6 of our priority recommendations.

IRS open priority recommendations graphic

IRS open priority recommendations graphic

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What GAO Found

In April 2019, GAO identified 23 priority recommendations for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Since then, IRS has implemented 6 of those recommendations by, among other things, increasing the frequency at which incoming W-2 information was made available, which would expand the agency's efforts to systematically verify wage information reported on tax returns and avoid issuing invalid refunds.

In April 2020, GAO identified 7 additional priority recommendations for IRS, bringing the total number to 24. These open recommendations involve the following areas:

  • Improve payment integrity
  • Reduce tax fraud
  • Improve resource investment decision-making and oversight
  • Improve information security
  • Improve audit effectiveness
  • Improve taxpayer services
  • Enhance strategic human capital management
  • Safeguard sensitive assets and records

Full implementation of these issues could significantly improve IRS's operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact James R. McTigue, Jr. or Jessica Lucas-Judy at (202) 512-9110 or or

Full Report

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Compliance oversightDecision makingHigh-risk issuesImproper paymentsInformation securityTax lawTax returnsTaxpayersLabor forceHuman capital management